A look at what’s trending in Major League Baseball this week:
One shining moment: The New York Mets have done it all this season, except win. GM Sandy Alderson stepped down to fight a recurrence of cancer. Manager Mickey Callaway appeared unaware that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes might need surgery, even after Cespedes had said so publicly. Their Florida State League team includes closer Jenrry Mejia, reinstated from a so-called lifetime ban for three violations of baseball’s drug policy, and oft-injured third baseman David Wright, whose last major league hit came off the Dodgers’ Chris Hatcher two years ago. On July 31, the Mets gave up 25 runs. On Thursday, they scored a team-record 24, with reliever Jerry Blevins recording the first hit of his 11-year career: a single off Philadelphia Phillies infielder Scott Kingery, a position player pitching so slowly that he did not register on the radar gun. “Thanks to all who has reached out and said congratulations,” Blevins tweeted. “I can’t wait to tell my grandkids I got a hit off of Clayton Kershaw.”
Second to none: When the Dodgers traded for second baseman Brian Dozier, the clubhouse was subdued. Dozier would be welcomed, but Logan Forsythe was a popular teammate, one who did not pout after injuring his shoulder while filling in for Justin Turner at third base and later losing his job at second base. After batting .207 with a .560 OPS for the Dodgers this season, he hit .449 with a 1.031 OPS in his first 14 games with the Minnesota Twins. The .449 average ties MVP front-runner Mookie Betts for the American League lead in August, and it’s the highest by a second baseman in his first 14 games with a team since Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, for the 1927 New York Giants.
A glorious mess: What better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Animal House” than with a food fight? The independent St. Paul Saints staged the promotion of the year this week, giving every fan a protective poncho, and a tray filled with popcorn, marshmallows, mashed potatoes and powdered doughnuts. At the end of the fifth inning, the Saints showed the “Animal House” scene where John Belushi yells “FOOD FIGHT!” and some 7,500 fans pelted one another for a minute and a half, with staffers in the press box pouring popcorn on the fans below. For every dollar the Saints spent on food for the fight, they donated a dollar to a Minnesota food bank.
Breaking the unwritten rules: The aftermath was the most interesting part of the incident in which the Miami Marlins’ Jose Urena got a six-game suspension for intentionally hitting the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna. Several players took to social media to rip one of their peers, and no one wanted to hear the old-school bromide that you ought to brush back a hot hitter to make him uncomfortable. Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh: “Don’t ruin a guy’s season bc you can’t execute, & damn sure don’t drill him just bc you can’t think of another way to get him out.” Former Dodgers and Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young: “Stop bringing up Pedro, Unit, Drysdale, Gibson, etc. Those guys got people out because they’re HOFers. Pitching inside was an art to them. For every guy like that, there are tons of other tough guys who pitched inside w no command, got shelled, and then got released.”
And another thing: The commentary was painfully obvious, and uninformed: What message is the league sending when the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is suspended for two games for shoving a player while Urena will miss one start for intentionally hitting a player with a 98-mph fastball? Trouble is, the six-game suspension fits with precedent for similar situations, so a significantly longer suspension could be overturned by an arbitrator. If the players truly stand united against Urena’s action — and they should — they need to instruct their union leadership to negotiate a much tougher penalty for reckless pitches.